The day of reckoning is finally upon the Republican Party. Two of the remaining candidates in the race not named Donald Trump, may be making their final stands in their home states of Ohio and Florida respectively. If either John Kasich or Marco Rubio lose to The Donald on Tuesday, that may be it for their campaigns and the beginning of a two-person race between Trump and Ted Cruz.
At Trendency Research, we have been looking at these two states since last fall so let’s examine where we stand on Super Tuesday, Part Three.
In Florida, our data indicates this could be a nice night for Trump. We have seen rapid late movement in the race in some recent states, as late deciders move away from Trump. But as it stands now, Trump maintains a commanding lead in Florida. At the 90 Threshold in our survey (very consistent supporters), Trump leads with 56 percent of the vote. At the 75 Threshold, this number increases to 59 percent. What this means is that Trump, as evidenced throughout the primary season, has a loyal core of support that is unwavering, despite what he might say or do.
As the race is down to four candidates, the voters have begun to coalesce around their favorites. None, however, come close to touching Trump’s numbers. Rubio’s support puts him in second place in the Sunshine State, but in recent weeks, it’s Cruz and Kasich who’ve seen larger increases in their share of support. Now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Cruz catches Rubio. Regardless, odds are good that Florida will be the end of the road for Rubio.
In Ohio, we find a much different race shaping up. Trump still leads here, but he has some strong competitors in the form of the sitting governor and even Cruz, to a lesser extent. At the 90 Threshold, Trump holds 47 percent of the support, while Kasich pulls in 37 percent, and Cruz 14 percent. At the 75 Threshold, the numbers remains almost identical. Once we drop down to the 25 Threshold, looking at voters less strong in their support for one candidate, Trump takes 38 percent support, as compared to 31 percent and 21 percent for Kasich and Cruz respectively.
Beyond simple Threshold analysis, we also utilize what we term Commitment and Rejection indices. These are measurements of people who are fully committed to a candidate and will most likely not waver, and those that will most likely never consider voting for someone else. In Ohio, Trump currently has a Commitment Index of 24 percent, as compared to Kasich at 21 percent and Cruz at 8 percent (poor Rubio is at 1 percent).
Looking at the Rejection Index, Trump has a Rejection Index of 61 (out of 100), which sounds like a lot — and it is — but it looks better when compared to Kasich’s 66 and Cruz’s 79. Meanwhile, Rubio is at 89.
We should note that over the last weekend, numbers have moved in Kasich’s direction. Whether this momentum can take him past Trump on Election Day is up in the air, but he’s seen his numbers at the 90 Threshold increase by 6 points, while Trump’s dropped 2 points. Trump’s lead at the Commitment Index dropped from 9 points to only 4 points. This is shaping up to be a nail biter in Ohio.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, which also votes Tuesday but has seen little public polling, we see a similar story unfolding as other early primary and caucus states. It appears that Trump’s lead over other candidates has slipped somewhat over the past month, but voters haven’t coalesced enough around an alternative to knock him off his perch.
At the moment, Trump leads in the average Threshold analysis with 32 percent. Similar to some public polls, Cruz comes in second with 22 percent, while Rubio takes third with 14 percent.
Looking at the data in more detail shows that the strength of Trump’s support helps to separate himself from the others, and puts him in a good position to emerge victorious in North Carolina on March 15. Among the strongest supporters at the 90 Threshold, Trump leads with 44 percent support, and Cruz second at 30 percent. Clearly, these are the two candidates with passionate supporters. At the 75 Threshold, Trump continues his domination, taking 43 percent of the vote, while Cruz has just 27 percent.
It's not until we look at the lower Thresholds (weaker and less consistent support), where the race tightens. At the 25 Threshold: Trump 29, Cruz, 26, Rubio 20 and Kasich 14. These numbers paint a picture of a Republican electorate in North Carolina that’s divided. Trump, and to a lesser degree Cruz, have their loyal base, but Rubio and Kasich supporters either can’t make up their minds or are lukewarm to both.
In fact, Rubio’s vote share doesn’t reach double digits until the 50 Threshold, and then only barely. Said more plainly, his supporters are open to shifting their allegiance or aren’t thrilled about the prospects about voting for Rubio (a phenomenon we saw in Virginia a week ago). Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, are with him and not going anywhere.
Stefan Hankin is founder and president of Lincoln Park Strategies, a Washington D.C.-based public opinion firm. Follow him on Twitter at @LPStrategies.